When Jose Reyes is on the field for the Toronto Blue Jays, it’s difficult not to pay attention.
With the myriad of ways that he can generate offense at the plate, and his ability can be a game-changing factor on the basepaths, Reyes is a talent in at the shortstop position whose offensive skill set might be unmatched in the league today.
That may sound like a bit of an exaggeration – but it won’t be for the Blue Jays and their fans. Simply put, the team has not had a game-changing shortstop quite like Reyes in their batting lineup for decades, if not in the team’s history (sorry, Tony Fernandez).
So for the team and its new shortstop, this spring really isn’t so much about making sure that he is going to be capable of fitting in with the new-look lineup and all of the other pieces. Nah, this spring is going to be spent on watching just how Reyes can set the table for the whole offense, and how the trickle-down effect from his presence can make everyone else better.
The 29-year old has played in five Grapefruit League games thus far, and has done something notable to contribute in each outing. He hasn’t gone hitless in a game yet, with has a team-leading nine hits, including a pair of 3-for-3 outings, a double, homer, and a stolen base.
In short? He’s been a Swiss Army knife on offense, with the skills to contribute in just about every area of the game.
Though the defense wasn’t totally there Reyes last season, he’s been attacking the glove side of the game with the same kind of slick dynamism there this spring, using his speed to give the team a toolsy fielder with the range to get to balls that seem like it’d be impossible to reach.
This is magnified, of course, especially when compared to the shortcomings that his infield teammates Emilio Bonifacio and Maicer Izturis are showing with their six combined errors.
As important as they may be to the 2013 Blue Jays, though, they’re simply not Reyes.
In fact, you could even argue that there might not be another position player who is as exciting to watch on the Blue Jays right now as the shortstop. Not Edwin Encarnacion, not Brett Lawrie, and not even the team’s best player, Jose Bautista.
If this Spring Training is an exhibition of his skills, then Reyes is simply putting on a show.